An estimated 89 million tonnes of food goes to waste in the EU each year, and this is an increasing trend. Managing the food system is complex, and it is a major challenge in large cities, such as London. Londons households throw away an estimated 900 000 tonnes of food each year, of which 540 000 tonnes is avoidable. This has adverse environmental, economic and societal impacts. Environmental impacts include methane productionfrom landfilling. There is a financial loss to householders who buy but do not consume food, while good food being thrown away could be redistributed to ease poverty. Poor health also results from people consuming too much of the wrong types of food. Societal costs also include the costs of collecting and processing food waste (over 60 million per annum in London), and the costs of treating people with conditions such as obesity.
The LIFE TRiFOCAL London project aimed to conduct a holistic communications campaign to encourage sustainable food systems in cities. The campaign was specifically designed to support the implementation of the EU Roadmap for Resource-Efficiency, which called for "incentives for healthier ... consumption of food and to halve the disposal of edible food waste in the EU by 2020." The project also supported the EU Circular Economy Action Plan circular economy strategy, which includes actions to prevent food waste. The campaign aimed to encourage three food-centric behaviours: the prevention of food waste by changing consumer behaviour; the promotion of healthy and sustainable eating by changing purchasing and preparation practices; and the recycling of unavoidable food waste. The project team aimed to create an interactive, multi-stakeholder food waste behavioural change 'Resource Bank', so that activity can be replicated across other major EU cities.
The LIFE TRiFOCAL London project piloted a holistic communications campaign to encourage sustainable food systems in cities, prevent food waste, promote healthy and sustainable eating, and encourage the recycling of unavoidable food waste. It developed an interactive multi-stakeholder food waste behavioural change 'Resource Bank', which will facilitate replication of the campaign in other UK and EU cities.
Specifically, the project achieved:
As part of the campaign, the project team produced school resource packs, case studies, and training videos. Project outputs will be available on the Resource Bank for at least 5 years. Five EU replication cities signed up at the start of the project, and a further five cities and one country have signed up during the project duration. The project team calculated that if its package of work was rolled out across the top 22 cities in Europe, a reduction of over one million tonnes of food waste could be achieved within five years.
The project featured as an element in the delivery of the Mayor of Londons Environment and Waste Strategy (2018) and directly supportsLondons transition to a more circular economy under the citys Circular Economy Route Map. The project is in line with the EUs Roadmap to a Resource-Efficient Europe and the Circular Economy Action Plan, and the EU 2020 Health Strategy. It also contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) 12.3 relating to food waste.
Initial research showed that messaging on food waste prevention, food waste recycling, and healthy sustainable eating had not previously been integrated and applied at such a scale. The LIFE TRiFOCAL London project conducted a creative approach to combining these three messages. An evaluation of the London pilot demonstrated the successful integration of the three messages into the projects Small Change, Big Difference campaign, which showed Londoners how small food changes can lead to better, healthier, and more sustainable lives. Engagement with European stakeholders, networking and dissemination all contributed to the projects outputs and enhanced the overall impact of the project.
The project piloted Grand Panels in two London boroughs (Merton and Lambeth); working with local charities to harness the knowledge and expertise of the older generations in preparing, cooking and storing food, by creating videos aimed at 18-34-year-olds. Other social benefits arose from directly involving older people in workshops and training sessions to help pass on their knowledge to parents and younger people, for example, in terms of social cohesion. Benefits for Londoners could also be realised through healthier and more sustainable eating, with the project team calculating that 82 067 people now have a 7% to 19% lower mortality risk due to changes in their eating habits. Furthermore, as a result of the project, two FTE jobs were created.
Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).